Loughborough University
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Women's economic activity trajectories over the life course: Implications for the self-rated health of women aged 64+ in England

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-12-19, 11:02 authored by Juliet StoneJuliet Stone, Maria Evandrou, Jane Falkingham, Athina Vlachantoni
Background Previous research has highlighted the importance of accumulated life-course labour market status and the balancing of multiple roles for understanding inequalities in health in later life. This may be particularly important for women, who are increasingly required to balance work and family life in liberal welfare contexts, such as in Britain. Methods This study analyses retrospective life history data for 2160 women aged 64+ years (born 1909-1943) from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, collected in 2006-2007 as part of an ongoing panel study. Optimal matching and cluster analyses are used to produce a taxonomy of women's life-course economic activity trajectories based on their experiences between ages 16 and 64 years. This classification is then used in logistic regression analysis to investigate associations with self-rated health in later life. Results A set of five trajectories emerge as the dominant patterns of women's economic activity over the life course for those cohorts of English women born prior to 1943: (1) full-time workers; (2) family carers; (3) full-time returners; (4) part-time returners; (5) atypical/inactive. Regression analyses show that women who experience defined periods of full-time work both before and after focusing on family life appear to have the most favourable later life health outcomes. Conclusions The findings are discussed with reference to the accumulation of social and economic resources over the life course and the balancing of multiple roles in work and family domains. In conclusion, the development of policies that facilitate women, if they wish, to successfully combine paid employment with family life could have a positive impact on their health in later life.


The funding is provided by the National Institute of Aging in the USA, and a consortium of UK government departments coordinated by the Office for National Statistics.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health






873 - 879


STONE, J. ... et al., 2015. Women's economic activity trajectories over the life course: Implications for the self-rated health of women aged 64+ in England. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 69(9), pp. 873 - 879.


BMJ Publishing Group


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



This article has been accepted for publication in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2015 following peer review, and the Version of Record can be accessed online at https://doi.org/10.1136/jech-2014-204777






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